If you’re an ESL teacher looking for fun activities for talking about dating, look no further. Below are over thirty questions and activities to get your ESL students talking, reading and writing about dating.
Although ESL students tend to absolutely love just sitting around talking with a group about romance and dating, there are plenty more fun activities you can do that involve reading writing, playing games, listening to music and watching videos as well as having conversation.
Split your students up into groups of 3-5 to discuss the following questions:
- How does dating work in your country?
- How do you decide whom to date? Where do you meet people to date?
- How do you begin dating?
- Who asks whom?
- Who pays?
- What topics do you think are acceptable to discuss on a first date?
- What kinds of things do you do on a date?
- Describe a typical first date in your culture.
- How does dating change the longer you date?
- How serious is dating in your culture? If you date, does it mean you’re probably going to get married, or is it often just for fun?
- How long do people in your country usually date before they get married?
- Do you spend time alone with your date, or are there other people there? Does this change over time?
- How long do you think you should date before you start holding hands, kissing, etc.?
- Do people in your country use online date matching services?
- Do people in your country go on blind dates?
- If you are single, would you go on a blind date? If you aren’t single, would you have gone on a blind date when you were single? Who would you trust to set you up on a blind date?
Here are some writing activities that, unless otherwise noted, are great for groups, pairs or individuals.
- Tell a story - Imagine two people from very different cultures are going out on a first date. What kinds of problems might they have? Write a story about them and their date.
- Develop an online dating profile - Work in a group. Make an online dating profile for one of your group members (or an imaginary person). Make him/her sound interesting.
- Write an email - Read the profile created by another group and write an email to that person, introducing yourself.
- Write a letter - Think of a problem someone might have with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Write a letter to an advice columnist asking for advice. Trade letters with a classmate and write an advice letter back to them.
- Review a letter - Edit a poorly written introduction email.
Look in the local paper to find five fun things to do on a date. Gather a group of books that contain stories about dating, romance and/or marriage that students love to read. Read and discuss any article you think your class would find interesting and appropriate from a dating advice site like Top Dating Tips.
- Students sit in a circle. Student A writes a sentence about a character on a date and passes the paper to Student B. Student B draws a picture of the scene described by Student A, then folds down the paper so that Student A’s sentence is hidden. Student C looks at the picture drawn by Student B and writes a sentence about what he/she thinks is happening. Student C then folds down the paper so that Student B’s picture and Student A’s sentence are hidden. Student D reads Student C’s sentence and draws a picture of it. This continues, alternating pictures and sentences with only the previous student’s work visible to the current student, until the paper gets back to Student A. Then you can unfold the paper and see the hilarious progression from the original sentence and picture to the final. Everyone can play this at once if every student starts by writing a sentence on his/her own sheet of paper. All the papers travel around the circle at the same time, and you end up with lots of funny stories and drawings.
- Spin the Bottle. It is not a good idea to actually play the game; but, you could teach your students about Spin the Bottle and other kissing games played by American teenagers at parties.
- The Dating Game - Just like the old TV show, split students up into groups of four with one person seeking a date and the other three being potential dates. They can all play themselves, they can create characters to play, or you can create the characters for them.
- MadLibs - Write a few simple stories about dating or people on a date or someone who wants to go out with someone else, take out a few nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and let the students fill in the blanks blindly. Then read the nonsense and laugh. Advanced students can then write their own stories, identify and remove their own nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and then play the game with a partner.
- Listen to Brad Paisley’s song, "Me Neither." Hand out the lyrics with words missing and make it into a cloze listening exercise, change some of the words to similar-sounding (but incorrect) words and have your students correct the mistakes, or have your students act out the story.
- Have students work in pairs facing each other, one facing a TV and the other with his or her back to it. Play a date scene from a movie on mute (Along Came Polly, Clueless and Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! have good ones). The student who can see the TV describes what’s happening to the student who can’t see it.
- ESL Flow has some great ideas and resources for talking about friendship, romance, dating, love, marriage and Valentine’s Day.
- Breaking News English has a lesson plan on dating that comes in two difficulty levels.
- Check out YourDictionary's ESL lesson plans on relationships and friendships.
Dating is one of the most fun topics to discuss in an ESL classroom. The students love it, which makes it a lot of fun to teach, and while they’re talking about romance and fun nights out on the town, they’re also learning and reinforcing all kinds of grammatical structures, vocabulary and idioms. What more could you ask for?